4 Indispensable Disciplines for Guiding Your Child in Faith
My son tumbled from the bus, a duffel full of dirty laundry hanging from his shoulder. He looked exactly as expected after a week at church camp – tousled and slightly sunburned, eyes hollowed by lost sleep, and greenish in the face from a 7 hour bus ride. His smile was weak, but his hug sincere. We weaved through a sea of energy and laughter, evidence of memories made.
After a restorative night’s sleep, my son began telling the stories of pancake breakfasts and shaving cream wars and boys who felt like brothers overnight. I heard about sin scribbled pages tossed into campfires, and listened to snippets of worship lyrics known by heart. I even got a peek inside the camp journal where my son had jotted notes during Bible lessons, and I knew right then I’d pay those hefty camp fees several times over, because my son had spent the week making the faith I’d taught him a faith of his own. Could I put a price on that?
This maturity milestone was a celebration, but it was also a cue that my mom role required a shift. My son was no longer following behind me as I followed Jesus, he was following alongside me. I’m a guide as we grow in faith together.
Want to be an effective faith guide for your child? These four disciplines will keep you focused:
1. BE DELIBERATE
Just as a guide must know the path, the only way to guide your child in faith is to have authentic faith of your own, so take responsibility for your Spiritual growth. Read your Bible and prioritize prayer, but live wisely in every choice, not just the ‘Christian choices’. Every step matters. Jesus was a guide to the Father, and He stayed love-focused and purpose-ready by caring for His spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional needs. Follow His example by getting enough sleep, eating well, maintaining your physical and mental health, and yes, limiting your consumption of media that doesn’t nurture unfaltering faith.
2. BE SINCERE
Your child knows the true you. Attempt fraudulent holiness and you risk his or her trust, or worse – you risk distracting your child from the gospel message of grace and salvation. Be YOU. Consistently. This requires you know who you are, and who you are not – equal parts dignity and humility. Know your personality flaws and strengths, rely on your God-given framework, and openly share God’s truth from a teachable heart.
3. BE ATTENTIVE
A growing child doesn’t have the experience necessary for recognizing the unique and inherent qualities of himself or herself – they need someone to help them navigate the discovery. So observe your child. Watch how they show and receive love. Be aware of their default emotions when they’re stressed or tired. Offer them choices and take note of the typical response. Ask introspective questions, listen to the common themes behind their joys and frustrations, and recognize their patterns of insecurity. Be inexhaustibly interested in the inner workings of your child, because once you know their heart, you can better speak to their heart by encouraging their talents, affirming their healthy expressions, and inspiring them to stretch past fears as they follow Christ.
4. BE AVAILABLE
Knowing your child and appreciating their uniqueness has two advantages: it nurtures their potential and it nurtures your affection. Jesus was compassionate and it drew people to Him, children included. Affection for your child – complete love for them, flaws and all – is paramount for becoming and being an approachable mom. Kids want to know their presence is welcome. They want to be seen and heard, and they need your full attention. It’s amazing how often a mom’s busyness is interpreted as unavailability by a child. Proximity isn’t enough for relationship, there has to be intentionality. Since you’re the guide, make the intentional choices for togetherness. Eat meals together without phones and involve your child in dinner prep, home DIYs, tending a garden, or in planning a game night. Be present with your child, not just around him or her.
Enjoy these days, mama! Guide your children well, and when they’re grown, they’ll know their way home.
Michelle mentors at a nonprofit for vulnerable women across Phoenix, and teaches weekly classes on getting unstuck, establishing boundaries, ditching insecurity, finding courage, and other useful skills never taught in school. She’s a wife and mother of 4, a rogue chef, voracious reader, frequent biker, a sucker for sunshine, and a big believer in the power of prayer. She reflects on truth, faith, and being human at www.onemoretruth.com.
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